The Sudler Trophy

Honoring the Close Historical Relationship and Outstanding Contribution of College Marching Bands to the American Way of Life

A Biannual Award (since 2007) to Recognize a College Marching Band of Special Merit

2019 Recipient

West Chester University
Marching Band
Adam Gumble, Director

COVID-19 Update

Due to the uncertainty in our profession caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are postponing the search and nomination process for the SUDLER TROPHY for this year.

We are planning on resuming the process for Fall 2021 with the trophy being presented Fall 2022. More information with updates will be forthcoming next Spring.

Thank you.

Be safe.

Frank Tracz, C


The purpose of the Sudler Trophy is to identify and recognize collegiate marching bands of particular excellence that have made outstanding contributions to the American way of life.  The Sudler Trophy will be awarded biannually to a college or university marching band which has demonstrated the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years.

The Sudler Trophy is made possible by a grant from Louis and Virginia Sudler of ChicagoIllinois.  The annual presentation is administered and implemented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The Sudler Trophy is one in a series of awards developed by Mr. And Mrs. Sudler and the Sousa Foundation to recognize and to encourage excellence in the various aspects of band work.  The marching band is a force which reaches countless students and audiences throughout the nation, and the purpose of the Sudler Trophy is to recognize the outstanding work and contribution of college and university marching band directors.

The trophy has been designed by the distinguished artist Ed Blackwell.  It has been executed by Dieges and Clust, who also produce the Heisman Trophy.  Consisting of a bronze drum major astride a football stadium and mounted on a marble base, the trophy stands 22 ½ inches high.

(For the 2021 award)

Failure to follow guidelines will result in elimination from consideration.

September 1, 2021

E-mails distributed from chair to both Sudler committee membership and marching band directors throughout the nation calling for 2021 Sudler Trophy recommendations.

  Sudler Trophy purpose

  Selection procedure


List of past recipients


  Membership of selection committee

Deadline: October 1, 2021

Deadline to submit recommendations to committee chair. 

Any committee member or band director may submit up to three bands for consideration.

Each recommendation should contain the following information:

  • Name of school and current band director
  • Name of person making the recommendation
  • Paragraph of support for the recommendation
  • These recommendation materials should be submitted electronically to Frank Tracz at

For each group that is recommended, a performance DVD (one copy) is required (it should be acquired from the current university marching band director). 

  • The maximum length for a performance DVD is twenty minutes
  • The performance should be a high camera view
  • Five minutes of footage should be from the 2019 marching season
  • One complete halftime show is required
  • Pregame footage is welcome to reflect band tradition

Each performance DVD should be mailed to the below address and must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2020.

Dr. Frank Tracz
Chair, Sudler Trophy Committee
Kansas State University Bands
226 McCain Auditorium
Manhattan, KS  66506

October 15, 2021

All received materials adhering to the submission guidelines will be submitted to the selection screening committee appointed at the 2017 committee meeting in Chicago. 

Each member of the screening committee will review the materials submitted and forward to the chair through e-mail their top three recommendations (in order of preference).

October 30, 2021

Recommendations are due from screening committee to chair.  Chair will tabulate results and determine three nominees for full committee consideration.

November 1, 2021

The three nominees will be contacted by chair requesting a CD containing the following supporting materials:

  • Scan of a letter to the committee stating historical contribution to marching bands in their region – one page maximum length
  • Scan regarding band history – two page maximum length
  • Scans or digital copies of other supporting materials (five page maximum)



November 30, 2021

Supporting material CD is due to committee chair from the three nominees.

December 1, 2021

For each of the three nominees, the following materials will be distributed electronically to the full membership of the selection committee:

            Name of school and current band director

            Name of person making the recommendation

            Paragraph of support for the recommendation

            Performance DVD

            CD of supporting materials


The formal presentation of the Sudler Trophy will take place at a time and site mutually agreeable to the recipient and to the Sousa Foundation.  The recipient will be presented with the traveling trophy, which may be displayed at the recipient’s school during the following year.  The school will receive for permanent possession a large plaque, on which will be engraved the names of the university along with current and former marching band directors.  The current and all former marching band directors will receive personal plaques, and will be invited to participate in the presentation ceremonies.  Each member of the band will receive a personalized certificate.

All publicity distributed by the Sousa Foundation will stress that the award has been given for long time contributions of that school and its directors.  This is in keeping with the purpose of the award, which is to publicly recognize outstanding achievements by a collegiate marching band over a period of years.  This is NOT a contest to select the BEST college band in any given year.

“When Walter Camp established the rules for football in 1880, he could hardly have foreseen the effect the halftime break would have on the course of American music.  The struggle for places in the marching bands that flourish during the football season can be as spirited as competition for berths on the team itself.  For every Rose Bowl trombone player strutting before a national television audience, there are thousands of aspirants practicing and hoping to be there someday."...............from “The Story of America” aReaders Digest Publication

Louis and Virginia Sudler

Louis and Virginia Sudler were long-time supporters of the Sousa Foundation through their tireless efforts and their generous contributions.  The many projects that bear their names have been endowed in perpetuity by the Sudlers.

Louis Sudler was the rare combination of successful businessman, a performing artist, and a patron of the arts.  He was the founder of the Chicago real estate firm, Sudler and Company.  He appeared nationally as a soloist in concert, oratorios, with symphony orchestras and concert bands, at functions honoring five U.S. presidents, and as a recording artist; a baritone, he was a member of the Chicago Civic Opera. 

Primarily known for his work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he was chairman emeritus of The Orchestral Association, he had also demonstrated an active interest in bands and band music.  

Past Sudler Trophy Recipients

2019 - West Chester University
2017 - Iowa State University
2015 - Kansas State University
2013 - University of Florida
2011-  University of Notre Dame

2009 - Western Carolina University 

2007 – Indiana University 

2006 – University of Arkansas 

2005 – Penn State University 

2004 – Auburn University 

2003 – University of Alabama 

2002 – Louisiana State University 

2001 – Texas A&M University 

2000 – University of Georgia

1999 – Texas Tech University 

1998 – University of Massachusetts

1997 – West Virginia University 

1996 – University of Nebraska 

1995 – Purdue University 

1994 – James Madison University 

1993 – Univ. of California Los Angeles 

1992 – Northwestern University 

1991 – Arizona State University

1990 – University of Iowa 

1989 – University of Kansas 

1988 – Michigan State University 

1987 – University of Oklahoma 

1986 – University of Texas at Austin 

1985 – Florida A&M University 

1984 – Ohio State University 

1983 – University of Illinois 

1982 – University of Michigan

Sousa Foundation Executive Committee

Jay Gephart, Chairman of the Board
Lowell E. Graham, President and CEO
Douglas Harter, Vice President for Finance & Investment
Gerald Guilbeaux, Vice President - Treasurer
Timothy Rhea, Vice President - Secretary

The Sudler Trophy Selection Committee 
Frank Tracz, Committee Chair

Ken Dye
Notre Dame

Jay Watkins
University of Florida

F. David Romines
Marywood University

Caroline Hand
Ball State University

Rick Good
Auburn University

Ken Ozzello
University of Alabama

Jay Drury 
West Virginia University

Bob Buckner (ret.)
Western Carolina University

Brad McDavid 
University of Washington

Gordon Henderson 
University of California 
Los Angeles

Michael Golemo
Iowa State University

All correspondence and inquiries should be addressed to:
The Sudler Trophy Committee
Frank Tracz, Committee Chair